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15. Parodies of Imperial Ceremonial and Their Reflections in Byzantine Art

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Chapter Summary

This chapter surveys some of the more conspicuous instances of the parodying of imperial ceremonies, from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. It also considers a few parodies of church ceremonials, because these parodic liturgies shared some features in common with the imperial parodies, and help to reconstruct their character. The chapter shows how the ritualized derision of imperial ceremony also left its mark on works of art, particularly on portrayals of the Mocking of Christ, which provide our best illustrations of the parodies of Byzantine court ceremonial. It begins with a performance that is described in the tenth-century Life of Basil I, and later in the eleventh-century history of Skylitzes. One can observe that the mock ceremonials themselves had a ritualized character, they tended to follow, in an inverse way, the imperial ceremonies that they derided.

Keywords: Byzantine art; imperial ceremonies; mocking of Christ; parodic liturgies; Skylitzes



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